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C4-C7 ACDF Surgery

Started by Scotty4KSU on 08/09/2017 4:46pm

Hey all, I'm new to the community so, just a little about me. I used to be pretty active & enjoyed biking, motorcycling, and a lot of other things. Over the last couple of years, back pain, leg pain, shoulder pain, and tingling in my left arm have really held me back. I've been contributing to the opioid crisis by taking oxycodone for the last year or so just to keep the pain manageable. Well, last May I finally spoke to a orthopaedic surgeon who looked at my MRIs and x-ray results. The x-rays showed bone spurs (one so big it looks like a hook, but not in my neck), plus moderate to severe spinal stenosis, pinched nerves, herniations, etc. OK so he recommends a three level ACDF procedure. Maybe I just wasn't ready to hear that it was that serious, but I thought it sounded excessive. So for the last couple months I've been waiting to be seen by a nearby neurosurgeon. After multiple reschedules I finally saw him today. He said the same thing. His exact words were 'Your neck is a wreck. We're looking at C4-C7 ACDF. Having heard the same thing twice from two different surgeons, I took the plunge and scheduled the surgery.

Right now I'm doing the research on the procedure. So, I'd like to hear from anyone who has had this done. Anything you can tell me will be helpful...How bad is post-op pain? How soon does your arm stop tingling? How bad is the difficulty swallowing? What kind of neck brace are we looking at? How much will it limit activity in the future? Thanks in advance!


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Hello, and welcome to our Community! While we don't have any personal ACDF experiences to share, we do have lots of content to help further your education of the procedure:

( Cervical Surgery Animation )
( Anterior Cervical Discectomy )
( Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) at an Outpatient Spine Center )

And, in case you need some good questions to ask your surgeon:
( Spine Surgery: Questions to Ask Your Doctor )

We think it's great that you're informing yourself of this surgery before you undergo it. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you'll be during your recovery. We wish you the very best for a successful surgery and smooth recovery!


Hi Scott,
Like you I have had pain for years but as it
Started to get worse and I found myself taking more opioids than usual to stop the pain in my
neck, My shoulders and down my arm into my hand, even into my leg. I decided to have a new MRI and schedule the surgery. They tell me I need a C3 C7 posterior and a C3 C7 anterior with diskectomy and fusion. I have disk degenerative disease, bone spurs, arthritis and I have a bulging or herniated disks, spinal stenosis and they seem to be collapsing. I don't know about you but after reading everything here, it has scared me to death of the surgery and what all have to go through. Not to mention that there really are no glowing reports of successful surgeries here and the pain is brutal. I don't mind saying it's freaking me out. I also noticed there are no mention of the doctors that everyone is using or the facilities what hospital with Dr or are they not allowed to say.? It would be helpful to others who are looking for doctors. I don't really have anybody to help me after the surgery so that's another reason I'm scared. I have a second opinion on 28 September maybe I will feel more comfortable with it after I see him . He is located at Cedars-Sinai. Anyway I would really like to see some more positive stories on here. Anyway thanks for listening and good luck to everyone,.


1st Surgery Nov 2015:

-ACDF fusion of C4-5, C5-6, C6-7 joined with titanium plate.

2nd Surgery Dec 2016:

-Single level fusion of C3-4 joined with zero-p spacer disc insert.

-what I learned:

1)take it easy after a fusion for at least a FULL year as other discs are susceptible to herniation. Don't just start doing physio stretches after 6-8 weeks as you could be putting too much strain on discs above and below

2)bone spurs formed inside of initial fusion and was compressing cord again.....symptoms returned, thought it was just recovery pain but it was not.....listen to your body, if something feels wrong, it likely is.

3)try to stay off the percocet type meds(if you can handle the pain) as it is addictive faster than you think and can be hard to wean off. Also when there is no pain you might think you can do more than you should.

4)practice 10 min of "mindfulness" everyday in order to prevent pain frustration and depression.

5)lose weight! (still struggling here)

I'm still in pain most of the time and it feels as though there is a big brick in the back of my neck all the time. Depression tries to get the better of me pretty much al the time but I fight it hard......I stopped drinking as best I can and am trying to figure out how much I can push my stretching of my neck so as not to blow another disc....I really should do more PT but am scared. I see my Surgeon on 26th of September so I will see where that leads..

REmember all......you are not alone in your pain both physically and mentally.